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Opinion & AnalysisTales of Time

Nation’s mood

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FOR 53 years, there have been no serious attempts to change the fortunes of this country for the better. Five presidents have taken turns at State House with too little success stories. We remain a global laughing stock.

On Thursday, as has been the case all the years in the past, the president, now Peter Mutharika, led Malawians to a prayer session which we are told is meant to seek divine intervention in our affairs.

But those who do not mince words will tell you that those prayer sessions are a waste of time and a mockery to God. Here, they say, is a country that is known for its corruption yet it wants to impress the world that it is God-fearing.

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Fifty-three Independence Day prayer sessions have been held but we are still busy stealing the little we have as a nation. Our leaders, on that day attempt to look pious believing they will dupe both God and man.

But these are the same leaders that are deep into corruption, tribalism, lies and every vice that repulses the same divine being they claim to pray to. Independence is supposed to mean freedom not only from the flag of colonisers but also the freedom for people to enjoy the fruits of belonging to a country.

In Malawi, it is only those that are close to the president that can claim to be enjoying fruits of independence. Malawians are pushed to the peripheral and they do not even know what is happening to or in their country.

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When asked on behalf of Malawians how much taxpayers’ money would be spent on those useless celebrations, the government—with an air of hubris and uppity—refused to disclose. The refusal to disclose what from the government kitty will be used means there is something fishy which the government does not want us to know.

But it is not surprising because the government we have today has an avalanche of crooks who, as if stealing from us is not enough, regard us as nonentities who can as well be left in the dark on things that concern us.

If at all we were independent and, by extension, free in our country, our government should have respected us and made us part of decision making and kept us in the light of how it was spending our money. On Wednesday, Independence Day eve, I was invited to that grand ceremony at Independence Arch. Splendid as I believed the function would be, I refused to take part because of its attachment to independence. Independence Day to me is a sad day that constantly reminds me how wasted we are as a country.

For 53 years, political and economic stagnation have been the hallmark of this country. What is sad is that there appears to be no attempt to change things. Our leader is laidback and clueless, the opposition is uninspiring and the citizens are irritatingly passive even when they know that something is terribly wrong with their country. The other week, The Sunday Times carried on its front page a picture of school kids learning in some structure that looks like a haste assembly of grass and poles.

Actually it is more of a tobacco barn than a hut. The other week, pregnant women at Chikangawa marched for an ambulance which the health centre did not have. In our universities, 100 students have to scramble for one tattered book.

Our prisons are congested and there is little that has been done. We are stuck in poverty and there is little to celebrate about. Optimists will be quick to point at the few universities we have, some roads here and there and what have you. But the question that must be posed is, is this worth the 53 years of self rule? Something poignant happened on Independence Day!

Eight young and beautiful souls were fast-forwarded on their heavenly chariot in a stampede at Bingu National Stadium. Even those that are known to have hearts of stone were shocked and saddened by the news which gripped the nation.

The celebrations obviously turned to a session of tears as the eight slept cold. These are people who wanted to have a little joy in a country that gives its citizens little to smile about. But sadly their search for brief happiness turned to eternal grief for those left behind.

After the news of the deaths on Thursday July 6— Independence Day, the sadness that we had and still have is exactly what most Malawians feel on daily basis. Malawi is always in a state of sorrow with a people plagued by poverty, hunger, diseases, unemployment and many others. Sadness, as it was on July 6, is exactly this nation’s mood.

 

ADDENDUM

Once upon a time we had PE and Youth Week

I WAS impressed last week when I saw some people cleaning our neighbourhoods in what I later learnt was the Health Week. Despite not being a perfect Health Week, it is commendable and worth appreciating that there is some tidiness in our neighbourhoods. The sight of people cleaning reminded me of the good old days when there was the Youth Week. During the Youth Week in those days, the government saved a lot of money and had some pretty decent structures like bridges, bus shelters and some public convenient places constructed by the youth. But we lost it all when we attained democracy and started demonising everything that was associated with the country’s first regime. We abandoned things like Physical Education (PE) and Youth Week. The impact of these two can be seen by all who know how a nation should be like. Subjects like PE obviously create a nation of fit youth. These are people that are key to national development. Without PE, we are having an obese and lazy generation of youths. Take for instance, and God forbid, Malawi goes to war with another country and the military is overwhelmed and there is need for reinforcements. Are we going to conscript the lazy youth that know no physical education? The abandonment of PE, I believe, has also negatively affected sports development in the country. Our sportsmen and sportswomen are never fit and Malawi has a poor sports record. I think as a country, we need to rethink our decisions and bring back things like PE and Youth Week.

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